When anxiety strikes, the thought of laughing is far, far away. In fact, laughing seems unbearable because what is so funny when we have anxiety? And why the hell would we want to laugh, right? Not to mention, that even when we do, anxiety is there, prodding us with a big stick! So, you, yeah you, trying to make us laugh during an anxiety attack, you're not helping! Because in the mind of an anxiety sufferer, laughing is something we don't deserve. It's something that makes us feel guilty - like we're giving in to anxiety. Like we're giving the beast permission to let us have our couple of minutes laughter before, BLAM! 'Have that you undeserving, unworthy slave!' We want to laugh. But we want to laugh with peace of mind and without unleashing the beast!
Laughing, for someone with anxiety is a tentative subject. It's something that doesn't come with ease or without consequence. Especially when anxiety is (metaphorically) stood there with her arms folded and tapping her foot! We feel like a child who is misbehaving or enjoying themselves without permission! Like when your mum catches you leaning out of the window chatting to your friends when you're supposed to be grounded!
But unlike yo' mamma - Anxiety is not the boss here!
So who is? You are, my friend! YOU are! You see, laughing is an emotion that anxiety tries to deprive us of. It thrives off the negative emotions and can't handle the positives! Hence why it will try and strike you when you least expect it. And then hence why we become almost scared of having a good ole' laugh!
My day job is a very serious mission. It requires patience, diligence and comes with an over-riding sense of perspective. But it also requires a personable approach. An endeavour to make the patients feel they have a voice and a personality. It requires laughter. And so we as a team try to provide that for them on a daily basis. We banter with light-heartedness. We laugh and we are laughed at. And its a brilliant way to boost moral over-all.
According to https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456 laughter cannot cure all ailments, however, it can induce mental and physical changes in your body. For instance, it can stimulate your organs by enhancing your intake of oxygen-rich air, it stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles and releases increased feel good endorphins in your brain. Laughter can relieve your response to stress by increasing and decreasing your heart rate leaving you feeling relaxed. It can improve your immune system by releasing neuropeptides that fight stress and other illnesses.
Who'd have thought that negative thoughts can manifest into chemical reactions and can affect your body by bringing more stress into your system and therefore reducing immunity!!
So with the research to back it up, laughter most definitely is a natural medicine. It should be taken as a daily dose, much like when take our vitamins or medication.
When we look at it like this, anxiety is surely at the back of the queue having a tantrum because she is no longer needed. She is not invited to join in the laughter. She is not a part of who you are. She has no business making you feel guilty or on edge.
So what now?
Engage! Get amongst the banter. Belly laugh and know you are entitled to. It's healthy, it's uplifting and it make us feel damn good! What makes you laugh?
I shall be taking my daily dose of laughter. Will you?
Lots and lotsa love & giggles